Tom Heeney

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Tom Heeney
Tom Heeney LOC.jpg
Statistics
Real nameThomas Heeney
Nickname(s)The Hard Rock from Down Under
Weight(s)Heavyweight
Height5 ft 10 12 in (1.79 m)
Reach72 in (180 cm)
NationalityNew Zealand
Born(1898-05-18)18 May 1898
Gisborne, New Zealand
Died15 June 1984(1984-06-15) (aged 86)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Boxing record
Total fights69
Wins37
Wins by KO15
Losses22
Draws8
No contests2

Thomas Heeney (18 May 1898 – 15 June 1984) was a professional heavyweight boxer from New Zealand, best known for unsuccessfully challenging champion Gene Tunney for the heavyweight championship of the world in New York City on 26 July 1928.

Biography[edit]

Portrait of Heeney in boxing stance

Heeney was born in Gisborne, New Zealand, and worked as a plumber until he left New Zealand.[1] He was a strong swimmer and was awarded a bronze medal by the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand in 1918 for helping rescue two women from the sea off Waikanae Beach, Gisborne. He also retrieved a third woman who did not survive.[2]

He learnt to box from his father and his older brother Jack Heeney, who was the New Zealand amateur welterweight champion in 1914 and middleweight champion from 1919 to 1924. He became a professional boxer when he fought Bill Bartlett in Gisborne in 1920.[3] In October 1920, Heeney became the New Zealand heavyweight champion when he beat Brian McCleary of Dunedin on a technical knockout. Heeney was also a rugby union player and played for the Hawke's Bay — Poverty Bay team against the Springboks in 1921.[3] He boxed in Australia and won the Australian heavyweight champion title in 1922, and fought in England and South Africa in 1924.

Heeney went to the United States in 1926. He beat Jim Maloney, Johnny Risko and Jim Delaney[3] and eventually ranked fourth among the world's heavyweight boxers. After fighting Jack Sharkey, later a heavyweight world champion, in 1928 for the right to fight Tunney, on 26 July 1928, Heeney fought Gene Tunney at Yankee Stadium, New York City, for the world heavyweight championship title. Heeney entered the boxing ring wearing a Māori cloak that was given to him by Heni Materoa, the widow of Sir James Carroll. The referee, Ed Forbes, stopped the scheduled 15 round fight in the 11th round, and Tunney won. It was said of Heeney:

His gritty performance in this fight would have been considered by many observers to have justified his sobriquet of The Hard Rock from Down Under given by renowned writer and journalist, Damon Runyon.[citation needed]

A week after his defeat, Tom married Marion Dunn, an American. Heeney became an American citizen and boxed until 1934, accomplishing a fighting record of 70 professional bouts, 38 wins, 22 losses, 8 draws, and 2 no-contest.

After retiring from boxing, he owned a bar in Miami, Florida. He served with the United States Navy Civil Engineer Corps in World War II, and afterward coached boxing and refereed armed forces bouts in the South Pacific. He often fished with his friend, the famous writer Ernest Hemingway. Heeney's wife, Marion, died in 1980. They had no children.[1]

Heeney was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

Professional boxing record[edit]

Professional record summary
69 fights 37 wins 22 losses
By knockout 15 6
By decision 17 15
By disqualification 5 1
Draws 8
No contests 1
Newspaper decisions/draws 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
69 Loss 37–22–8 (1) United States Stanley Poreda TKO 10 (10) 27 Mar 1933 United States St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York, U.S.
68 Loss N/A United States Charley Retzlaff NWS 10 7 Mar 1933 United States Auditorium, St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
67 Loss 37–21–8 (1) United States Patsy Perroni PTS 10 6 Dec 1932 United States Public Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
66 Draw 37–20–8 (1) United States John Schwake PTS 10 25 Oct 1932 United States Coliseum, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
65 Win 37–20–7 (1) Germany Hans Birkie PTS 10 16 Mar 1932 United States Auditorium, Oakland, California, U.S.
64 Loss 36–20–7 (1) United States Max Baer PTS 10 22 Feb 1932 United States Seals Stadium, San Francisco, California, U.S.
63 Draw 36–19–7 (1) Italy Giacomo Bergomas PTS 10 26 Oct 1931 United States St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York, U.S.
62 Draw 36–19–6 (1) Portugal Santa Camarão PTS 10 5 Oct 1931 United States Rhode Island Auditorium, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
61 Win 36–19–5 (1) Portugal Santa Camarão PTS 12 10 Sep 1931 United States Mark's Stadium, Tiverton, Rhode Island, U.S.
60 Loss 35–19–5 (1) United States Jimmy Slattery PTS 6 20 Apr 1931 United States Buffalo Auditorium, Buffalo, New York, U.S.
59 Loss 35–18–5 (1) United States Johnny Risko PTS 10 6 Apr 1931 Canada Arena Gardens, Toronto, Canada
58 Loss 35–17–5 (1) United States Charley Retzlaff TKO 7 (10) 6 Mar 1931 United States Olympia Stadium, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
57 Loss 35–16–5 (1) United States Max Baer KO 3 (10) 16 Jan 1931 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
56 Loss 35–15–5 (1) United States Emmett Rocco PTS 10 13 Oct 1930 United States Motor Square Garden, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
55 Loss 35–14–5 (1) United States Frank Cawley UD 10 29 Sep 1930 United States Kingston Armory, Kingston, Pennsylvania, U.S.
54 Win 35–13–5 (1) United States George Panka PTS 10 8 Sep 1930 United States Myers Bowl, North Braddock, Pennsylvania, U.S.
53 Loss 34–13–5 (1) United States Tuffy Griffiths TKO 10 (10) 30 Jul 1930 United States Queensboro Stadium, Queens, New York, U.S.
52 Win 34–12–5 (1) United States George Hoffman PTS 10 26 Sep 1929 United States Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, U.S.
51 Loss 33–12–5 (1) Argentina Victorio Campolo TKO 9 (10) 15 Aug 1929 United States Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
50 Win 33–11–5 (1) Canada Elzear Rioux DQ 8 (10) 29 May 1929 Canada Forum, Montreal, Canada
49 Loss 32–11–5 (1) Norway Otto von Porat UD 10 12 Mar 1929 United States Chicago Coliseum, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
48 Loss 32–10–5 (1) United States Jim Maloney PTS 10 1 Mar 1929 United States Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
47 Loss 32–9–5 (1) United States Gene Tunney TKO 11 (15) 26 Jul 1928 United States Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, U.S. For NBA, The Ring, and lineal heavyweight titles
46 Win 32–8–5 (1) Canada Jack Delaney PTS 15 1 Mar 1928 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
45 Draw 31–8–5 (1) United States Jack Sharkey SD 12 13 Jan 1928 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
44 Win 31–8–4 (1) United States Johnny Risko PTS 10 26 Oct 1927 United States Olympia Stadium, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
43 Win 30–8–4 (1) United States Jim Maloney KO 1 (12) 30 Sep 1927 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
42 Draw 29–8–4 (1) Spain Paulino Uzcudun PTS 15 8 Sep 1927 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
41 Win 29–8–3 (1) United States Bud Gorman DQ 3 (10) 4 Aug 1927 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
40 Win 28–8–3 (1) Netherlands Jack DeMave PTS 10 24 Jun 1927 United States Coney Island Stadium, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
39 Loss 27–8–3 (1) Spain Paulino Uzcudun PTS 10 1 Apr 1927 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
38 Win 27–7–3 (1) United States Charley Anderson TKO 8 (10) 25 Feb 1927 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
37 Win 26–7–3 (1) United Kingdom Jack Stanley PTS 15 25 Oct 1926 United Kingdom National Sporting Club, London, England
36 Win 25–7–3 (1) Republic of Ireland Bartley Madden PTS 20 9 Aug 1926 Republic of Ireland Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland
35 Loss 24–7–3 (1) United Kingdom Phil Scott PTS 20 10 Jul 1926 United Kingdom The Dell, Southampton, England For Commonwealth heavyweight title
34 Win 24–6–3 (1) United Kingdom Tom Berry PTS 15 5 Jul 1926 United Kingdom The Ring, London, England
33 Win 23–6–3 (1) United Kingdom Charley Smith DQ 5 (10) 18 Mar 1926 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, London, England
32 Loss 22–6–3 (1) Australia George Miller DQ 5 (20) 14 Nov 1925 South Africa Town Hall, Durban, South Africa
31 Win 22–5–3 (1) Australia George Miller DQ 8 (20) 10 Oct 1925 South Africa Town Hall, Johannesburg, South Africa
30 Win 21–5–3 (1) South Africa Vic Morace KO 4 (20) 1 Jul 1925 South Africa City Hall, Cape Town, South Africa
29 Win 20–5–3 (1) South Africa Johnny Squires RTD 18 (20) 15 Jun 1925 South Africa City Hall, Cape Town, South Africa
28 Win 19–5–3 (1) South Africa Johnny Squires PTS 20 9 Apr 1925 South Africa Town Hall, Johannesburg, South Africa
27 Loss 18–5–3 (1) Australia George Cook PTS 20 12 Feb 1925 United Kingdom Premierland, London, England
26 Win 18–4–3 (1) United Kingdom Jim Young KO 4 (15) 19 Jan 1925 United Kingdom National Sporting Club, London, England
25 NC 17–4–3 (1) Belgium Frans Hendrickx NC 6 (15) 3 Nov 1924 United Kingdom The Ring, London, England
24 Loss 17–4–3 United Kingdom Phil Scott PTS 20 22 Sep 1924 United Kingdom The Ring, London, England For vacant Commonwealth heavyweight title
23 Win 17–3–3 New Zealand Ern Young TKO 4 (15) 19 Feb 1924 New Zealand Town Hall, Tokomaru Bay, New Zealand Retained NZBA heavyweight title
22 Win 16–3–3 New Zealand Jim O'Sullivan KO 9 (15) 26 Dec 1923 New Zealand Opera House, Gisborne, New Zealand Retained NZBA heavyweight title
21 Win 15–3–3 New Zealand Jim O'Sullivan DQ 5 (15) 10 Nov 1923 New Zealand Opera House, Gisborne, New Zealand Won NZBA heavyweight title
20 Win 14–3–3 New Zealand Jim Savage KO 1 (15) 26 Oct 1923 New Zealand Princess Theatre, Napier, New Zealand
19 Loss 13–3–3 New Zealand Jim O'Sullivan PTS 15 26 Sep 1923 New Zealand Town Hall, Auckland, New Zealand Lost NZBA heavyweight title
18 Win 13–2–3 New Zealand Brian McCleary TKO 14 (15) 14 Aug 1923 New Zealand King Edward Barracks, Christchurch, New Zealand Won NZBA heavyweight title
17 Win 12–2–3 Australia Jim Flett TKO 9 (15) 2 Aug 1923 New Zealand Opera House, Gisborne, New Zealand
16 Win 11–2–3 New Zealand Cyril Whitaker TKO 15 (15) 4 Jun 1923 New Zealand Town Hall, Auckland, New Zealand
15 Win 10–2–3 Australia Jack Complin TKO 9 (20) 1 Jan 1923 Australia Sydney Stadium, Sydney, Australia
14 Draw 9–2–3 Australia Ern Waddy PTS 20 18 Dec 1922 Australia Unley Stadium, Adelaide, Australia
13 Draw 9–2–2 Australia Charlie Taylor PTS 20 12 Aug 1922 Australia Star Theatre, Mackay, Australia
12 Win 9–2–1 Australia Tom Batho TKO 14 (20) 22 Jul 1922 Australia Theatre Royal, Townsville, Australia
11 Loss 8–2–1 Australia Colin Bell PTS 20 30 Jun 1922 Australia Olympic Theatre, Mackay, Australia For Australian heavyweight title
10 Win 8–1–1 Australia Jack Leahy PTS 20 3 Jun 1922 Australia Olympic Theatre, Mackay, Australia
9 Win 7–1–1 Australia Jim Flett PTS 15 1 May 1922 Australia Olympic Theatre, Mackay, Australia
8 Loss 6–1–1 Australia Colin Bell PTS 20 17 Mar 1922 Australia Olympic Theatre, Mackay, Australia For ANBF Australasian and Australian heavyweight titles
7 Win 6–0–1 Australia Max Gornik RTD 15 (20) 11 Feb 1922 Australia Brisbane Stadium, Brisbane, Australia
6 Draw 5–0–1 Australia Colin Bell PTS 15 27 Oct 1921 New Zealand Opera House, Gisborne, New Zealand
5 Win 5–0 Australia Jack Cole PTS 15 23 Jul 1921 New Zealand Kaikohu Hall, Te Karaka, New Zealand
4 Win 4–0 New Zealand Albert Pooley PTS 15 11 Feb 1921 New Zealand Opera House, Gisborne, New Zealand Retained NZBA heavyweight title
3 Win 3–0 New Zealand Albert Pooley PTS 15 27 Oct 1920 New Zealand Opera House, Gisborne, New Zealand Won NZBA heavyweight title
2 Win 2–0 Croatia George Modrich PTS 15 8 Jun 1920 New Zealand Opera House, Gisborne, New Zealand
1 Win 1–0 New Zealand Bill Bartlett TKO 9 (15) 12 Feb 1920 New Zealand Opera House, Gisborne, New Zealand

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b McMillan, N. A. C. "Heeney, Thomas 1898–1984". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  2. ^ Mackay, Joseph Angus. "Tom Heeney's Bid For World Crown" in Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z., 1949.
  3. ^ a b c "Expatriates — biographies", An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966. Te Ara — The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 18 September 2007
   5. Vogt, Anton: 'Tom Heeney in heaven,' New Zealand Listener, 14 October 1960

Further reading[edit]

  • From Poverty Bay to Broadway: The story of Tom Heeney by Lydia Monin (2008)
  • Kiwis With Gloves On by Brian F O'Brien, published 1960, Reed.

External links[edit]